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Hochul, Micron announce Community Engagement Committee guiding investments in the community

Local and Micron officials stand in front of a rig on the White Pine Commerce Park site, the future home of central New York's Micron facilities, on April 28.
Abby Connolly
Local and Micron officials stand in front of a rig on the White Pine Commerce Park site, the future home of central New York's Micron facilities, on April 28.

Gov. Kathy Hochul joined Micron executives and County Executive Ryan McMahon Friday to announce members of a new community engagement committee which will help direct where funding will go within the community investment framework.

The Community Investment Framework is an agreement made between New York state and Micron which creates a $500 million Green CHIPS Community Investment Fund. Micron says it will invest $250 million into the fund with New York providing $100 million and national, state and local partners providing $150 million.

The committee is co-chaired by Melanie Littlejohn who is a vice president at National Grid and Tim Penix who is a vice president at Syracuse Educational Opportunity Center. Littlejohn said the committee is committed to ensuring opportunities the Micron project creates will be accessible to local residents including traditionally underrepresented communities.

"We know Micron's comprehensive approach to workforce development from everything from education to training programs to investment in childcare and transportation and affordable housing that brings it all together," Littlejohn said. "It is a focus on how to be successful and it will open doors and keep doors open. This work will build rewarding and families sustainable careers that will improve and strengthen the economic vitality of this region."

April Arnzen, senior vice president and chief people officer for Micron, said the committee is a dream team.

"This team is going to help us really identify the right opportunities for Micron to invest in this community," Arnzen said. "Even though the first shovel is not in the ground yet we have to start our workforce development and our community investments now."

Hochul said New York is on the cusp of a great era and has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to address the needs of the whole region as it prepares for the jobs, opportunities and people coming as a result of Micron's investment.

"That's where the community engagement committee comes in," Hochul said. "We want them to be sitting here today in 2023 envisioning the needs, the challenges, the opportunities and how to be a guiding force to make sure we achieve them. They'll work closely with Micron and all levels of government to ensure that all the needs of central New York and upstate are met."

Hochul said the committee's work will be a catalyst that sparks lasting change.

"This is a transformative moment in our history and you will be the transformers," Hochul said.

Micron CEO Sanjay Mehrotra said chips are going to transform the world saying memory and storage will grow faster than the rest of the semiconductor industry in the second half of this decade. He said this does not just require construction and the technology, but the community as well.

"It requires the workforce," Mehrotra said. "It requires community engagement. We want to make Micron not just a great place to work here, we want to make Clay and the surrounding communities a great place to live and prosper here as well. This is what Micron is committed to."

McMahon said he believes the committee members will prepare the community for the opportunities to come from Micron.

"The greatest opportunity any community has ever had in our country," McMahon said. "The way we set up a historical bipartisan team to get this project, we will take that bipartisan spirit, move forward and we'll make sure that every person in this community can feel this project and feels part of this project."

Micron has said it plans to invest up to $100 billion over the next 20 years constructing the Clay megafab chip plant.

In addition to chairs Littlejohn and Penix, the committee members are:

  • April Arnzen — Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer, Micron
  • Karen Belcher — Executive Director, Food Bank of Central New York
  • Donna DeSiato — Superintendent, East Syracuse Minoa School District
  • Bishop Ronald Dewberry — Senior Pastor, New Life Temple of Praise
  • Kristi Eck — Chief of Staff, SUNY Oswego
  • Courtney Geduldig — Corporate Vice President, Global Public and Government Affairs, Micron
  • Mark Hall — President and CEO, Syracuse Community Health
  • Jasenko Mondom — Employment Specialist, Refugee Assistance Program at Syracuse City School District
  • Meg O'Connell — Executive Director, Allyn Family Foundation
  • Hazel Powless — Haudenosaunne Environmental Task Force, Onondaga Nation
  • Kerry Quaglia — Founder and CEO, Home HeadQuarters
  • Sheena Solomon — Executive Director, The Gifford Foundation

Ex Officio Members

  • Rob Beard — SVP and General Counsel, Micron
  • Kevin Younis — COO and Executive Deputy Commissioner, Empire State Development
  • Isabelle Harris — Director of Strategic Initiatives, Onondaga County
  • Sharon Owens — Deputy Mayor, City of Syracuse
  • Damian Ulatowski — Supervisor, Town of Clay
Ava Pukatch joined the WRVO news team in September 2022. She previously reported for WCHL in Chapel Hill, NC and earned a degree in Journalism and Media from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Ava was a Stembler Scholar and a reporter and producer for the award-winning UNC Hussman broadcast Carolina Connection. In her free time, Ava enjoys theatre, coffee and cheering on Tar Heel sports. Find her on Twitter @apukatch.